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Panspermia


Published 1990


Panspermia is the name for the theory that life exists and is distributed throughout the universe in the form of germs or spores. This short computer animation places the viewer in the middle of a virtual world of an aggressively reproducing inter-galactic life form, and depicts a single life cycle of this unusual self propagating system.

Original software was used to create and animate forests of 3D plant structures. "Artificial evolution" techniques were used to interactively select from random mutations of plant shapes until a variety of interesting structures emerged. The subject matter of the piece suggests the underlying biological methods that were used to efficiently create an unusual level of complexity. Dynamic simulations and particle systems were also employed to achieve motions that are calculated automatically.

Attempts were made to bring together several concepts: chaos, complexity, evolution, self propagating entities, and the nature of life itself.


Run time 2:08
Audio/Visual sound, color
Contact Information For further technical information see: "Artificial Evolution for Computer Graphics" K.Sims, Computer Graphics (Siggraph '91 proceedings), July 1991, pp.319-328. and "Particle Animation and Rendering Using Data Parallel Computation" K.Sims, Computer Graphics (Siggraph '90 proceedings), Aug. 1990, pp.405-413. For information on other works by Karl Sims visit: http://www.genarts.com/karl/

Credits

Software and Animation by Karl Sims
Sound by David Atherton, David Grimes, Steve Blake, Target Productions
Thanks to Lew Tucker, Jim Salem, Carl Feynman, Dave Sheppard, David Marvit, JP Massar, Gary Oberbrunner and Danny Hillis
This piece was rendered on a Connection Machine CM-2 computer.

Reviews

Reviewer: Alc1s - - October 22, 2011
Subject: Nobody?
I'm surprised that nobody else has mentioned that this was used in Pantera's "Planet Caravan" video. Pretty unique at the time.
Reviewer: patt17 - - May 30, 2010
Subject: Spectacular alien "life" graphics
There may be more sophisticated graphics out there now, but the simplicity is perfect for the intergalactic evolutionary subject matter.

An absolute gem. Worth repeated viewings (I watched it three times).
Reviewer: XWiz - - April 24, 2010
Subject: Beyond The Mind's Eye
This film was included in the compilation 'Beyond The Mind's Eye', which featured music by Jan Hammer. It was released in this format in 1992. It looked absolutely groundbreakingly stunning at that time... nowadays, it's still a great piece of animation when you consider the work that went into it, but the sheer weight of cash from Hollywood crushes this with almost ignominious ease. Ignominious for Hollywood, I mean... this is a piece of art.
Reviewer: cromag - - November 2, 2008
Subject: Classic
I'm pretty sure this was included in a short compilation of computer animation that played on PBS back in the 90s.

It's still pretty impressive.
Reviewer: EnglishCaddy - - August 25, 2008
Subject: Great Graphics
Great graphics for a home made vid in 1990
Reviewer: Spuzz - - June 8, 2008
Subject: hmmm
I'm pretty sure I've seen this before, at where, I don't know, but it's definitely familiar, and still quite awesome. Now that I think about it, I think I am sure I saw it at some dance club, you know, for visuals. Pretty sure of that.
Reviewer: kitfox - - February 18, 2008
Subject: Revolutionary animation
Revolutionary in it's time, it astounds me how one person could create both the software and animation to bring this to film. It's also a great demonstration of some sophisticated artificial life techniques that have had a big impact on cinema today.
Reviewer: Smokescreen - - June 22, 2007
Subject: Too bad?
An interesting and visually stimulating short animation.
Reviewer: Claeyborn - - May 30, 2007
Subject: Too bad...
Too bad, computer graphics and clever art aren't evidence for evolution.
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